Gairín, J. & Castro, D. (2021). El contexto organizativo como espacio de intervención [The organisational context as a space for intervention]. (Anna Díaz-Vicario)

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Gairín, J. & Castro, D. (2021).
El contexto organizativo como espacio de intervención [The organisational context as a space for intervention].
Editorial Síntesis. 302 pp.


While many works consider the organisation of educational centres, this book presents an up-to-date and systematic analysis of their basic components as organisations from the perspective of how these institutions facilitate socio-educational intervention and action. ,

This work was written jointly by the Professor of Didactics and School Organisation Joaquín Gairín, a leading figure in the field of organisation and management of educational centres, and the Associate Professor of Didactics and Educational Organisation Diego Castro, who has extensive experience in the field of management and non-formal organisations. Their complementary profiles give El contexto organizativo como espacio de intervención a special value that expands its outlook from the organisation and management of compulsory education centres towards the organisation and management of other types of educational and training institutions, such as universities and non-formal socio-educational organisations. ,

The content of the work is set out in twelve chapters grouped into four parts: organisations in their context (I), organisational components (II), the organisational dynamic (III), and the distinctive aspects of organisations (IV). The authors consider, in a systematic and ordered way, the different components of analysis of the organisations, enabling the reader to opt for a total approach to the components, and as well as attention and depth in reading, analysing, and reflecting on one or more of these components. ,

The text starts with a brief introduction that enables the reader to position herself in the content of the work. It then goes into greater depth in the exposition and analysis of each setting through a review of the classic literature and most up- to-date focuses. We will now briefly look at each part with the objective of considering the work’s principal theses. ,

The first part focusses on analysing the relations that the educational centre maintains with its immediate setting, also characterising the educational centre as an organisation. Starting from the assumption that familiarity with the context is essential to be able to act, the authors underline how considering context involves analysing the social-cultural-economic context, the family context, and the administrative context. Therefore, throughout the first chapter, the authors consider questions such as the educator city, the rights and duties of parents or legal guardians, and the relationship between regulations and centre autonomy. ,

The second chapter considers the concept of the organisation, presenting twelve specific features of educational institutions. It also defines and clarifies some related concepts such as administration, management, leadership, and governance whose meanings are often blurred confounded. ,

The five chapters in the next part focus on the typical components of educational organisations. Accordingly, chapter three, which is the first in this part, focusses on institutional plans, in other words, the set of documents that establish and formalise the mission, values, and goals of an organisation. Specifically, it sets out the medium-long-term and short-term characteristics of these documents. ,

Next, starting from the position that “people are the most important component of organisations, and can make their operation possible or restrict it” (p. 83), chapter four considers the organisation of human resources. Specifically, it considers both the academic organisation of the students and the necessary academic organisation and coordination of teachers, as well as the planning of contributions by other professionals who are involved in educational centres. ,

Chapters five and six respectively focus on presenting the organisation of material and functional resources, which, along with human resources, comprise the basic elements of the internal educational setting. The authors present the conditioning factors of school space, architecture, organisation of equipment and teaching materials, timetabling, budgets and their management, as well as the rules that contribute to organising the activity of educational centres. ,

This part ends with chapter seven, which is dedicated to the relational system. Starting from the idea that the centres include a diverse group of people with different interests and goals and that the relationships established between people and groups often shape the functioning of an organisation’s structures and how well it achieves its objectives, the authors consider formal and informal relationships, communication, participation and decision-making processes, and the environment and culture as the ultimate expression of these relationships. ,

Having considered the topics linked to goals, resources, and people, the authors move on to the third part, which centres on questions relating to the organisational dynamics that mobilise the organisational components presented in the previous part and make them function adequately. Questions linked to management (chapter eight), the running of institutions (chapter nine), and institutional change and improvement (chapter ten) are considered in depth. ,

More specifically, in chapter eight the authors start from the idea that traditional organisational functions mean the management can be defined as the body or person that habitually exercises organisational functions, analysing the nature and functions of school management, the role of management as agents of change, and of leadership for pedagogical change. ,

Following on from this, chapter nine goes through the different focuses and models of institutional management that serve as a preliminary to proposing an integrated and comprehensive model of school management that synthesises and adopts the resources and benefits of earlier models from the viewpoint of the current situation. ,

This part ends with the chapter dedicated to innovation, which beyond clarifying the meaning of the term and considering the relations and differences with other proposals for change (reform, change, and improvement), reviews how processes of change occur, are created, and are implemented. ,

Finally, the last part is dedicated to the differential aspects of the organisations. ,

Taking the distinctive characteristics of university organisations (chapter 11) and non-formal educational centres (chapter 12) as examples, the authors make us aware of how the contextual and institutional features affect the organisational aspects. ,

This work’s authors display a very broad knowledge of the subject of organisation and management of educational institutions, which they are able to set down on paper clearly and simply, establishing connections between the different topics they consider, giving the work both rigour and coherence. ,

A number of questions and activities are suggested at the end of each chapter to encourage debate and reflection and consider the content presented in more depth. ,

In view of all of this, the book is especially suitable for people who are starting out in the study and analysis of educational organisations, and also for those who are already professionally active in this type of institution and wish to reflect on their everyday work. ,

This book can be described as a manual of school organisation and so could well become part of the obligatory or recommended bibliography for organisation and management modules on bachelor’s, master’s, and other postgraduate courses in the field of education, but also other lines of study in which educational institutions are an area for professional activity. ,,

Anna Díaz-Vicario ■ ,

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